A Kaduna State High Court on Wednesday declared as illegal the Religious Regulatory Bill passed by the House of Assembly, saying it infringed the fundamental rights of pastors to propagate Christianity in the state.
According to Daily Post: The Court noted that the plan by the Kaduna State government to issue licences to the pastors of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) using the Religious Regulatory Bill is a gross violation of their fundamental human rights, which guarantees freedom of association and freedom of religion.
The Court added that the passage of the religious bill is inconsistent with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
Justice Hajaratu Gwadah, while passing the ruling, said that the actions of the Kaduna State House of Assembly in proceeding to pass the bill into law despite the pending court proceedings and the subsisting court injunction restraining the action, “is an affront to this honourable court”.
The case was instituted by the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) Kaduna chapter since 2016 against Kaduna State Governor (Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai), Kaduna State House of Assembly and the Attorney General of Kaduna State over the Kaduna State Religious Regulatory Bill.
The lawyers representing the respondents, in reaction to the judgment, said that their clients will go higher, meaning Gov El-Rufai and the Kaduna State House of Assembly will appeal the judgement.
However, the lead counsel to PFN, S. A. Akani who briefed newsmen outside the court, expressed satisfaction with the judgment on behalf of his client, the PFN.
He said, “Our argument is that you cannot licence pastors because they are already licenced. In Christianity, not only ordained pastors preach. Every Christian is commanded to go ye into the world and preach the gospel.
“Section 38, subsection 1 of the Nigeria constitution allows everybody propagate his religion in teaching, in observance and in action.
“So, when you now say pastors should be licenced, you have infringed on their right. That is why the court agreed with us that section 6 of the bill is against the constitutional right of PFN.
“Even though the court said that government can regulate religion, but screening and issuing license to pastors offends the constitutional rights of pastors.”
Counsel for the state government, Sanusi Usman, however, said he was not dissatisfied with the judgment.